In my freshman year of high school, I was assigned by a mentor to explore what art is in the context of my general study of art history. Although somewhat trite and oversimplified (they were written from the youthful, albeit naive perspective of a ninth-grader), my answers still feel true today, three years later. Although there is no right way to quantify or qualify the essence of art, I hope that this outline encourages you to consider to some of art’s unique offerings, even if you already knew they were there.

ART IS a medium used to relay messages about humanity (beauty, pain, tragedy, and so on). Art is a way of capturing a specific value, playing with its aesthetic purpose, and showing it to the world.

ART IS RELEVANT because it is a method of taking something in real time, in our lives, and distorting it or projecting it in a different form. Art necessitates universal, visceral appeal. Art thrives on maintaining a constant stream of relevance.

ARTISTS COMMUNICATE THROUGH ART using light, angles, depth, symbolism, different materials, and a million other techniques. But most fundamentally, artists are speaking to viewers in their work. Art is a conduit for conversation.

THE VALUE IN ART is that it is a lasting portrayal of the ways people see the world. Art survives man. We can learn so much from the choices an artist makes in representing anything or anyone.

ART BECOMES ART when the artist’s intention and thought process fuses with experimentation to create something real. The practice of art-making requires artists to decide where, why, when, and how they will create.

PEOPLE SEE ART as individuals. Art is subjective. People can interpret a range of things from an artwork and feel and express varying emotions in response to art. They come to see art because they find something meaningful and distinctive about it, despite or because of the potential fame factor.

Photograph by Moselle Kleiner at the Venice Biennale— Palazzo Mora, work by Carl Andre.